My first job in tertiary Student Services was at an Institute of Technology in the industrial inner-west of Melbourne. The institution was, in all truth, more interesting than my job. But the team was diverse and lively, and it was here I first entertained the notion of becoming a counsellor. It would mean more study, but what the hell. Most of my life had been spent in one kind of educational institution or another.

It’s not me I want to tell you about here, though, it’s the Administrative Officer. Her name was Betty and she was a tidy, well-maintained woman in her late fifties with a sharp line in reprimand within her front desk domain and a mischievous sense of humour that would, in our enlightened times, be considered a little on the risqué side.

During my first winter term in the job, I staggered in one morning coughing and spluttering like an asthmatic tank engine.

“Oooh!” chirped Betty, “You sound like you need some Vicks rubbed on your chest.”

Vicks Vaporub, for those unfamiliar with the product, is a methylated unguent that, when applied by hand to the upper thorax, claims to relieve coughing.

Unable to muster any response other than a blush, I fled to my office.

Another time I was sitting chatting to Betty at the front desk. There were no customers present. I think one of the counsellors, who bore the same given name is your correspondent but was much more self-confident, was also hanging around. Maybe he wanted something typed. Betty was not that keen on typing; it required a degree of foreplay to seduce her into lifting the dust cover off her IBM electric golfball machine.

Through some circuitous process that may well have involved other-Bruce gently teasing the Admin Officer (a risk I was neither able nor willing to take), the subject of readiness for rumpy pumpy came up. This is why I think other-Bruce was complicit; his Mediterranean wife used to periodically send him saucy photocopies via the facsimile machine. (It was the mid-80s, OK?). Nothing really offensive, mind you; more cheeky than pornographic.

So the subject of being ready for lovemaking came up. As I say, I have no idea how this intimate topic arose as I was probably trying desperately to work our how to exit, stage left, rather than tracking the dialogue. Perhaps other-Bruce had received a visual billet-doux from his spouse. Anyway, this is what Betty said, and it stayed with me as a profound observation on sexuality in long-term relationships.

“Sometimes I’m in the mood,” she said,

“…and sometimes I can be got in the mood.”

I do not think she was talking about Glen Miller.

Yet music can help with this migration process from ‘not’ to ‘in’. Or at least that’s what countless songwriters believe.

There’s music so sensual it warms your cockles by a process of induction.

There’s music of such rhythmic raunchiness that, like a flame to touch-paper, something primal is lit.

There’s the music that somehow relaxes, allowing connection with our desire to connect.

But music actually about sex is often not an aphrodisiac. When sex is the topic of song it is more often reporting than inviting. Boasting rather than beguiling. Advertising rather than seducing.

Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops is a collection of early blues (mostly 1930s) unambiguously proving that Victorian prudishness did not reach across the Atlantic to suppress unbridled African-American music-making between the Wars. Although the recordings are primitive, the instrumentation basic and the photos black and white, the lyrics are ardently technicolour.

For reasons of propriety we’ll make do with song titles rather than the lyrics themselves. I think you’ll find the titles educational enough.

Bo Carter wants to position his “Banana in your fruit basket” while Lil Johnson tells us all about “Sam—The hot dog man” and his wares.

Barrel House Annie finds a mutually satisfying way to relieve her “Furniture man blues” while in a different style of professional confessional, Lonnie Johnson claims to be “The best jockey In town”.

In another encounter, Barrel House Annie provides clear guidelines. “If it don’t fit (don’t force it)” she advises, lest you make her mad. Little Mae Kirkman, on the other hand, has no dimensional problems. “He’s just my size” she declares.

But it is not all “Bed spring poker” (Mississippi Sheiks) and licking her “Lollypop” (Hunter and Jenkins). In as sad tale of loss of mojo, Bo Carter laments “My pencil won’t write no more”. Bo, we feel your anguish.

Most of the songs use allusion and double entendre to convey their sultry message. Not so Lucile Bogan in an utterly outrageous version of “Shave ‘em dry”. This second iteration is so unabashedly foul that Lucille collapses into hysterical laughter at one point. Even Betty might have blushed at this one, though on the hole she would probably have found Hot Nuts & Lollypops a bit of a giggle. After all, unlike Bernice Edwards who had the “Butcher shop blues”, I imagine Betty would have echoed the boast of Lil Johnson: “My stove’s in good condition”.


While fine with friskiness, I wonder what Betty would have made of this other taboo topic?


  1. Is it hot in here or is it me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hot flushes may be experienced…


      1. I actually know – and listened to – that “Shave ’em Dry” tune not all that long ago but I can’t remember how I came to hear it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s extraordinary, isn’t it?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve got a couple of similar albums on the Stash label, Copulating Blues along with Pot Spoon Pipe & Jug. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think this material is regularly compiled. Nice to have under the counter of the collection, though, eh?


  3. I actually just came across a 45 by Kellee Patterson of If it Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It. I had no idea of the history of the song.

    In my early 20’s I had a lady around 40 act that way to me. Which would have been fine, but her husband worked there too. For some reason, he never liked me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Reckon we’re fortunate you survived to tell the tale, Brian!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a 3 month work term at a place with bullet proof glass. The only problem was he and I were both behind the glass.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m laughing at the image of you hiding in your office. 🙂 BTW, the video didn’t play. Maybe it’s been censored?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes there appear to be restrictions according to region. Perhaps that’s the problem. If you youtube Lil Johnson and Hot Nuts, that should deliver something tasty. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Perhaps I should tip-toe away….

        Liked by 1 person

    2. FWIW the version at does play for me in the UK.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Brilliant. I think I would also have been looking around for an exit sign in such scenarios.

    Anyhoo, this one sounds great. Can’t beat some, eh, cheeky blues (??). That said, I often wonder what the appropriate reaction is to some of the words those old blues cats (me being hip) sing.

    On a related note, it’s strange that I find these types of tracks authentic, while finding it all a bit of a gimmick when the likes of AC/DC do the same (all the time!), huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We might get ourselves into deep do-do here J, but it seems to me there is a whole lot more variety and creativity in this material than that of AC/DC (or similar).
      On your middle point, I think what makes it tolerable to listen to is the balance of male and female voices. It may not reflect the actual statistics of the original 78s but to modern ears (well, mine anyway) I can excuse the dodginess of the gender roles because of the sheer zest and, er, mojo of the women. I might, of course, be deluding myself shamefully.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Let’s avoid the deep do-do, Bruce *nods head in agreement*

        I think you make a very good point about the balance, zest, and mojo… plus, there’s variety. Even in a single track. There’s wry humour and wit woven in there rather than cheap laughs and thrills. We’ll maybe put it down to this old blues stuff being about life. Not lifestyle.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I sense a reckonin’ on the horizon….

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely! So are you telling me David Coverdale didn’t invent innuendo? Nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some elderly people believe it all started with Elvis’ hips. Hard to believe, I know.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ” We tried it on the front porch /We tried it in the hall/ We tried it in the dinin’ room/ We even backed against a wall” – Cousin Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cousin Joe was clearly a home renovator of considerable expertise.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Have a listen to this one, it’s not ancient… And, true, I have this on a 12″ disc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the spirit of the thirties was clearly alive and horny in the mid-80s. Saucy!


  9. Love all that old stuff. Lightn’ Hopkins always pulled out some gems. All that stuff comes from working hard and then cutting loose. Good one Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This post got me scurrying through a box of dusty old mix tapes; no dirt found. What a pity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s tragic, DD. Want me to pop a cassette in the post?


      1. No thanks. I will make do with Salty Dog.
        (Although I suspect that may not be the best way to explain my intentions).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. LOL (as they say these days)


  11. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Again, another tight-fitting crack in the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh you are naughty!


      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        I know, shameless. Reading David Sedaris (bad influence).

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Man, I quick-scanned this post a while back and have only just read it in full now. What a tale! I came here for the album, but stayed for the stories. Oh man. Brilliant stuff.

    And this just makes my post about the Vintage Sex Songs comp all the more redundant – was it subliminal that I chose it to review, now? PROBABLY!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s groupthink, Aaron. That special connection between music nuts (hot or otherwise)!


      1. Man, this explains A LOT!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. “So the subject of being ready for lovemaking came up…”

    Wonderful story; really sweet how Betty cared enough to offer the Vaporub assit. As for the music, I think the exchange between you and J hits the nail on the head re the fraught commentary path. It is tough to find a way through that is both “woke” and fond. It is too bad because, everything else aside, there is just so much exuberant enjoyment of life here.

    Not sure whether this will work or just show a url, but below was snapped recently in Cave Creek, Arizona, about 10 minutes from my abode, during a visit from our kids. We grabbed, of course. Made a family outing of it in fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. […] only way to access such historical (and, in this case, hysterical) recordings. Back in 2017 I wrote a memoir piece connecting to this […]


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